IT’S A NEW DAWN!

The pandemic came with lock down, shattered dreams, goals, and visions. At the beginning, I had no hint of what would happen next, or even how I would plan for the rest of the days. I kept getting restless as the number of infections kept rising. I embraced being still and walking into new paths and being available for opportunities.

While being still, I received an email from the from Emerging Leaders Foundation on African Biblical Leadership Institute (ABLI), a program I had applied for, informing me that I had qualified for the 2020 cohort. I got excited on hearing the news, I celebrated in song and dance as I waited for the training to commence.

Come June, the training was finally launched. I got so excited to see fellow participants logging in from across the country. The music at the waiting room was calming, I knew I had found a new home. As participants kept logging in, my heart leapt with joy on seeing Caren Wakoli. How I felt like reaching out to hug her, but sadly because of the pandemic the meeting was online. It was very great having her speak to us, because she is a lady I admire, and I look forward to meeting her. She warmly welcomed us and encouraged us to always be outstanding. She told us to always endeavor to bring out our ‘A’ game on the table and we should never hold back.

I have since learnt that most people make decisions based on their emotions. During this period, I have taken time to settle and understand myself. I endeavor to be renewing my mind daily, fixing my eyes on positive results and not getting overwhelmed with stress. I started buying books on leadership and self-awareness, to enable me learn from people’s perspectives and experiences.

The journey that I took is about learning, unlearning, and re-learning as well. As an aspiring leader, I am learning to lead from behind just as Nelson Mandela said “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, where upon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being distracted from behind.” Leading from behind means being a servant leader, taking care of the people’s needs first before your own. I am on course to becoming a servant leader.

In this journey that I took, I have embraced the power of having a vision, not just having it but learning to implement it step by step. ABLI has led me to understand that you become successful if you implement your vision. This is because visions keep us going. Having a stronger vision makes one not to easily give up.

It is a journey of learning in depth the habits of highly effective leaders. By this, I am working daily on conquering myself and my fears and sharpening the axe. This way, I can be able to conquer the world. I am practicing being decisive and balancing my life. This is to keep me away from having a successful business and a terrible family at the same time.

Being an ABLI fellow is a journey I took on my way to leadership.  I believe with God on my side, I am making it. It is indeed the rise of a New Dawn.

 

By: Catherine Khayali, ABLI 2020

My Transformation Through ABLI

When I joined ABLI I had my expectations. I wanted to grow spiritually and build a strong network of believers across the country. It has been three months since we started the program and truly I can attest the program has exceeded my expectations. I love the partnership between Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) and the Bible Society of Kenya (BSK) with the aim of targeting young Christians who need leadership and mentorship training. It is hard to come by such programs that are Christian based.

Our weekly classes are top-notch! The organizers spend quality time coming up with the right content and topics that are relevant in the modern world. There are things that you will rarely learn in higher institutions of learning or even understand how important they are, but through ABLI, I have been able to understand and learn on so many aspects when it comes to leadership and professionalism; Leading with Emotional intelligence, using storytelling skills as a mode to influence people, spending time to write a letter to self and many more exciting topics. At this point, I feel empowered, it is hard to imagine that we are halfway into the program.

I am grateful that I got a chance to be a part of this cohort and I would like to thank the organizers for doing a commendable job. I am also thankful for being able to put into practice all the skills gained in this program at my current workplace. My start-up CBO, Graceway Foundation Africa, has also benefited a great deal and it has experiences a great change in its management, owing to my lessons from ABLI. If there is anyone out there who is looking to improve on their leadership style or you are wondering where to start from, ABLI is here for you!

I am reminded of one topic “Letter to self”. It has changed my perspective and helped me see things differently. I have been holding lots of painful past experiences that I could not bear to share with anyone around because of the memories behind them. The speaker of this session was very engaging, her soothing voice created a comfortable environment for us to speak out. This was the same day when I shared a story that I have never attempted to pass on to anyone, this has since left me with lightness and relief in my heart.

This year has not been an easy one but ABLI has made everything work out. Thank you, Emerging Leaders Foundation and Bible Society of Kenya, for giving me and other fellows hope, courage, strength and power when we were about to give up.

 

By: Emmanuel Opar Osano, ABLI 2020

 

 

I never thought I needed training, until I joined ABLI

Happiness is an episode life. Running on caffeine and three hours of sleep, my morning was bad. I had to catch a train otherwise, I would run late. As I sat in the train, I decided to check my overwhelmingly full mail. I scrolled through looking for any important ones and then sort the rest later. One caught my attention, my dad had sent me an email, it was a rare occurrence. The subject head read: invitation to a training. It never took my attention as such, I ended up locking my phone as I needed to catch up on my sleep.

Each day presents a new experience. I am always looking forward to learning more.

As I left class, I checked my emails once again with the intention of getting to understand more of the ‘training’. The program was being conducted by Emerging Leaders Foundations (ELF), an organization I had not heard of before. Like any curious being, I did a quick nosedive and checked their website to learn more about what they do. I was not doing anything else apart from French classes and so I thought, ‘Why not apply’.

One thing led to another and soon after, I got a call one evening for an interview, an impromptu interview, which I was not ready for but nonetheless, I went through with it. At the moment, I was sure that I wasn’t getting a slot in the program. Voila! I got an email confirming that I had made the cut into the program. I could say it was God’s Grace. I have been in trainings before and thought this one would be as the previous ones; long boring lectures, no discussions and team building. I have to admit I am not a people person, I love being part a passive member.

The first day I was not so sure. I logged in, the music was nice and I thought just a few more minutes. Sure enough I ended up listening to the whole session. I then thought to myself, may be it is day one. With time I have come to see it was not just the first day.  Each day presents a new experience.  I am always looking forward to learning more and filling my puny brain with ideas and knowledge. I have never considered leadership, but this training has motivated me to finish reading a book on leadership. I thought I would pick up in-depth learning once I started my post-graduate studies. ELF has really made an impact in my life. I am learning to contribute to the sessions, human interaction is not bad after all. Outgrowing my comfort space has made me explore new opportunities. I only told stories anonymously, now I can put my name out there to accompany my pieces. ABLI has really shed light on my life, I have learnt a lot. I can confidently say that it is shaping the person I am becoming.

I appreciate ELF and BSK for affording me this opportunity. Each new day I am finding myself looking at things in a different perspective, am learning, adopting, and dropping old habits. Training virtually can be hectic, you guys have beat the odds. I am happy to be in this program at such a time.

 

By Zipporah Mwangi-ABLI 2020

Mirror on the wall……..

How many times have you wronged yourself by lying to yourself? How many times have you robbed yourself of peace, just because you were not honest with yourself?

I would say that I have been guilty for a very long time. I had always disqualified myself even before anyone did. I would always shy away from taking responsibilities because I didn’t want to let anyone down. Little did I know that I was not doing anyone a favor but I was missing out on opportunities to learn and grow.

Life is about iterating. Executing all ideas you have and moving forward. Playing small does no one a favor.

I wanted to impact lives but I was afraid of the actual reality which didn’t look rosy. As we all know, reading books to learn how to ride a bicycle is impossible. You have to fall a few times as you ride it. I am a first born in a family of four children. One would think that since I am a firstborn I would naturally want to be a leader everywhere. Well that was not my case. Nothing pained me more than knowing at a certain instance I might have failed as a big sister.

I wish I would have refocused my attitude and learnt from those situations to inspire myself and my brothers. I missed out on so much that I would tell my younger 10 year old self to take the risk and explore leadership opportunities. I wish I was not ashamed of my situation and was bold enough to ask questions of where I felt inadequate. Wishes are not horses so I can’t ride them.

Thank God for chances. Now I know better and that is why I won’t waste any more chances. That is how I decided to vie for Vice President ABLI 2020 Class, evening Cohort. In my case, whether I won or lost the election, it would still be a win for me. This candidacy for me is a sign of taking risk by putting myself out there to serve and be held accountable.

Life is about iterating. Executing all ideas you have and moving forward. Playing small does no one a favor. Go big or go home. It is time we start living our best lives as we make other people’s lives better and worth living just like ELF and BSK are doing.

In the poem Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson, there is a line that states, “As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

We can lie to everyone. We even might think that we can lie to God. But one person you can never lie to is yourself no matter how much you try. So fellow leaders look at the mirror and tell yourself sorry for not being honest with yourself. Look at the mirror and see the greatness in you. Look at the mirror and say, “Mirror mirror on the wall I see a bold, beautiful/handsome and legendary lady/Gentleman.”

Step up and Stand Out. Just Do it!

 

Written by; Mutethya Mutweko, ABLI 2020

Looking Back, I have no Regrets

God indeed is at work in our lives, it’s just that it doesn’t always look or feel like it. Or even worse, he is not physical enough for us to directly interact with him.  I have always been seeking clarity and direction from God as I felt my life was a little bit off and I want pursuing my passion enough. I needed a change on my career path, it was one of those roller-coaster seasons that we are all encounter at some point of our lives.,

It was one those casual moments when you lazily spend time scrolling your phone and switching from one social media site to the other -just to pass time- when I bumped into a poster on the African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). After a close look at it, I thought “Why not give it a shot, who knows.” I had previously made so many applications without response, in my hazy thoughts, I expected the same with this one. I did fill the application form, I do not remember the exact details, but the form required a bunch of details.

Once done, my life continued normally (nomaree 😉) I forgot the application and moved on with my daily activities. Furthermore, I just made the application with no expectation of feedback.

Alas! The unexpected happened. I got a call from one of the ELF staff members informing me that he had called in regards to my ABLI application that they had received. He took me through a brief interviewing process over the call. At this point, everything else picked up fast, I got an email informing me that I was one of the successful applicants. I cannot explain the emotions that I went through in that moment, but I can tell one thing, I was excited and expectant of the unknown that awaited.

This is when my journey into being a better and transformative leader begun. Dreams fulfilled. My dreams for becoming a better and transformative leader begun. That phone call and the email changed my life. In that moment, I knew God had answered my prayer. Thank God for people amazing  people like ELF staff members who were always calling to encourage and push me into not letting this opportunity go at the beginning of the program when I was facing challenges with the whole idea of online sessions. Well, they were right on this as it is by far one of the best decisions of my life. I was also so surprised that my one of my close friends and church mate Florence, was also enrolled in the program. This made me feel much at home.

ABLI has taught me a lot, it has been a mind-changer.  The first module, self-awareness has helped me become more aware of who I am as a person. It has also helped me understand my emotions better, be more in tune with my emotions and know how to relate with different people. To seek to understand rather than being understood.

This training has helped me deal with my own fears and allow myself to be vulnerable to growth. I have also learnt to tell my story without guilt and shame and be proud of the baby steps I am making in pursuit of my dreams.

That you to Emerging Leaders Foundation and the Bible Society of Kenya for giving us an opportunity learn, unlearn, grow and sharpen our skills in order to be effective, relevant and enlightened even as we fulfill our God given mandates in life.

 

Written by; Jess Kaurie, ABLI 2020

“Dear Future Self…”

Dear Future Self,

You’re 35 already! Goodness, can you believe it? Happy birthday to you my darling. How do you feel today? Excited? Happy? Hopeful? Scared? I really hope you are not growing grey hairs on your head already (laughs). But hey, I’m sure they would still look good on you.

The year is 2020. And I am typing this letter on a friend’s computer – because at 25, I still have many borrowed things. As you can imagine, this hasn’t been your typical year – let’s not even talk about the pandemic, Covid-19. But you see, even amidst all that, God has been so good to me. For starters, I now have a ‘Madam President’ prefix to my good name. Yeah-yeah, it’s just a class leadership title, and nothing close to the grandiose first-female-president dreams you had at 17. But it’s close enough. A mark of possibility, you know.

You have always been passionate about developing young African leaders. Just do it! Pour yourself into the next generation of leaders.

Alright, back to 2020 and the goodness of God.

There is this class I’m taking with the Emerging Leaders Foundation and the Bible Society of Kenya called African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Honestly, it’s been one of those things I didn’t know I needed, until we crossed paths. Two months in and my life is revolutionized. I already feel better at leading myself and others. I am finally catching up with my potential and that is exciting! Oh sorry, I don’t mean to bore you with stuff you already know. But allow me to highlight two things out of my ABLI experience so far, as I hope to crown your 35th birthday with delightful reminders (Smiles).

First, I do hope you are where you dreamt you’d be at 35. If you are not yet there – because woman, you have had fierce dreams – I would like you to always remember, as Dr. Funson Somorin would say, “You have enough mass to cause a ripple or domino effect to the world around you.”

Oh yes, you do!

You are an amazing African Woman. An amazing African Christian Woman and there is nothing small about that. I know the years between 25 and 35 have put that to test in unthinkable ways; with a little too many confused moments trying to reconcile your womanhood to your faith and your vision for a better world. Mistakes? I guess those have been there too – all humans have a sprinkle of some. But I would like you, today, to focus on the substance of your identity. You are a woman of conviction, because you are a woman of faith. That has always been your X-Factor. Never lose sight of it. And I pray you won’t ever be ashamed to shine your light. Your world needs it.

You will sit at tables that will have you question your worth as a woman. Demands will be put on you to prove yourself. I hope in those times, you will feel anything but small and insignificant. Because you my darling, are a world changer and pacesetter.

And no, 35 is not late. Please shake off that lie. Wait, you have a family already, right? Is he a fine man? Are you transforming the world together…? I digress. And my time here is running out, unfortunately. What I mean to say is, 35 is just about the right time to start sowing back the good seeds sown into you over the years. You have always been passionate about developing young African leaders. Just do it! Pour yourself into the next generation of leaders. That way, you will live on even beyond 105 years.

I got to go now. But I must say this, I am proud of the woman you are Mutethya.

Happy birthday.

Submitted by:
Agnes Mutethya, ABLI 2020

 

The Journey: Redefining Leadership

What makes a leader really? Leadership is one of the most widely covered topics and with so many definitions of a leader. Earlier this year, in the process of checking out my social media updates, I came across a call for applications for Africa Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) 2020. I must admit, it was intriguing that such an opportunity existed. I decided to just make an attempt. “What do I have to lose?” I said to myself, unaware that it would be one of the most transforming programs I have come across so far.

I have learnt of the importance of developing good leadership habits and replacing negative habits with positive ones.

For the longest while, I have been on a journey of self-discovery. I have made discoveries on my capacities and my role in affecting my surroundings. It is a beautiful thing when success meets preparedness. Around the time when I came across the ABLI 2020 application, I was genuinely seeking an opportunity for structured mentorship in leadership and career development. ABLI has given me the opportunity to re-discover not just myself but leadership in itself.

Leadership begins by leading self before leading others. Reflecting on my story and mapping out my life, I have discovered many instances where I have been a leader without a title, but a leader nonetheless. In the first module on self-awareness, I discovered my personality and how it has influenced my leadership style. People are different and mutual understanding eases and harnesses leadership. Being able to apply emotional intelligence as a leader has taught me that more than doing the right thing, I need to do things the right way.

Sometimes wisdom is hidden in retrospect and everyone has a story. I have learnt the important of constantly being in touch with the development of my story as a leader. Many of the experiences that make up my story have prepared me for my present and future moments.

“Dear younger me.…” If you were to write a letter to your younger self, how would it read? Many times, wisdom does not find us in a vacuum with no experiences. Making peace with the past is one of the key things that an effective leader must be keen to do. As I have learnt from one of the sessions, I need not to allow past mistakes and regrets hold me back from becoming the leader I ought to be. It may not have been my fault that particular things happened to my younger version, but it is definitely my responsibility to seek healing and be free from the pain by forgiving and letting go – even forgiving myself.

We are creatures of habits. An effective leader builds evidence of their leadership through habits. As part of redefining leadership, I have learnt of the importance of developing good leadership habits and replacing negative habits with positive ones.

As my journey of leadership continues with ABLI as an Emerging Leader, I continue to have Leadership Redefined and become more refined. I am grateful to ELF, BSK, the ABLI Team, and my fellow leaders in ABLI 2020 for every opportunity and equipping. I encourage other emerging leaders to be set for the next opportunity to journey with ABLI. The journey continues!

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures,” F. M. Alexander.

 

Submittted by:
Kelvin Irungu- ABLI 2020

When the Goal is Bigger than the Odds; My Journey so Far

If you are like me, you most likely spend significant time on social media, whether for news, entertainment or just catching up with friends and family. The weekly screen time report I get on my phone has consistently shown that social media is the third most time-consuming activity on my phone after productivity and reading. The report indicates that I spend an average of twenty-two hours a week on social media via the phone.

This was the case early in the year when I stumbled upon a Facebook post calling for applications for the 2020 African Bible Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Having missed a similar opportunity in 2019, I was keen to sign up for this one and in no time, my application was complete. A fortnight later, I received the news I had been waiting for- I had been accepted to be part of the 2020 cohort.

We are encouraged, challenged, motivated and inspired by men and women who have a mastery of their respective subjects and deliver with great humility.

Then came the unprecedented and unexpected, Covid-19. The pandemic hit our nation and its effects were slowly being felt in every home, office, school and church. Soon after, all forms of public gatherings were suspended, throwing our planned classes in disarray. Traditionally, ABLI sessions would be held in a brick-and-mortar location with all participants physical present but with the preceding situations, we had to go virtual, the digital shift triumphed.

This is the sixth week of the program, and it feels like I have been at it for months. The infill of knowledge, self-discoveries, eye-opening interactions and invaluable networks are what makes ABLI the best thing for anyone to invest their time in. It has been said numerous times ‘You cannot lead others if you can’t lead yourself.’ This underscores the reason why personality types had to be the first of the eighteen sessions wrapped in seven modules.

Thanks to the session on emotional intelligence, my group members and I now understand that our own feelings and the feelings of others affect and contribute to effective management of our emotions in the different relationships we all have.

Everyone has a story and it is important to own your story. Heal from its pains, forgive the wrongdoers therein, learn from it and as you rise from the ashes, cast your vision. The session of storytelling and life mapping has helped me look back at my past with nothing to regret but great pride about how far I each have come from, the many mountains I’ve surmounted and the successes within. Through storytelling and life mapping, I can now pour out my life into the younger generation in fifteen minutes or less. I also can now clearly see the patterns and influences of the decisions I make today. What this means is that I am at a better position to know what to avoid, embrace and chase.

When was the last time you wrote yourself a letter? Whether you wrote it to your younger self or future self is still worth applauding. I personally was taken decades back to my sixteen-year-old self. I was just joining high school, and behind me, I was leaving a tainted reputation. A reputation characterised by dropping out of school countless times, gambling and general lawlessness. This came with shame, scorn and alienation. However, looking back, I realise that age sixteen was my turning point, hence the reason I wrote a letter my younger self. In that letter, I encouraged myself to forgive myself for my juvenile errors, forgive my foes, reconcile with the distant and face forward with readiness to conquer the next decade.

Today, I am glad I joined ABLI. Even with the disruption caused by the global pandemic, we are moving on as if nothing happened. The sessions on Zoom are just as lively and meaningful as though we were meeting physically. I must commend the ELF team for convening such a resourceful faculty. Week after week, we are encouraged, challenged, motivated and inspired by men and women who have a mastery of their respective subjects and deliver with great humility. Their preparedness shows in every slide and sentence.

On our WhatsApp group, we’re family. Though we’ve never met physically, we already have such great bonds. We discuss everything, from the sessions we’re having to current affairs to common leadership pitfalls.

I thank God for granting me this opportunity. Now I pray that you too will be led to grab it in the next calling.

Do not be afraid to take up leadership training and positions. As John C. Maxwell said, “Everything rises and rests on leadership.”

Submitted by:
James Sakwa, ABLI 2020

What if I embraced myself earlier on?

What if I believed?

What if I stepped out boldly, unafraid, and just launched out?

What if I stopped falling into a comparison trap?

What if I embraced myself?

I do not know about you, but I have asked myself such questions. As a young girl, I have felt not good enough and trapped in the prison of self-doubt. Guess what happened? Self-esteem hit the bottom sea; fear choked my every being; self-doubt curled my heart and mind into shambles. I admired to be another. I felt others were always better than myself. Even after knowing how I am shaped differently, I still hid in the cocoon of, ‘They are always better than me.’

My story has an influence, I should own it, embrace it, and share it proudly, it might inspire someone

Well, this year something happened.

After vehemently praying for a spirit of boldness, I resolved to BE ME and unapologetically explore opportunities and dive in with a committed and intentional heart. I was convinced and convicted of taking charge of my life, take it by its horns, in faith, and keep moving forward. Do you know what? We do not become by feeling sorry about ourselves. We become by taking responsibility for every minute of our lives and making it count. I am glad I chose this path. I have made my youthful life count by joining ELF’s program African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI). Here, Emerging Leaders are discovered and trained to be responsible changemakers in their personal lives and in the society.

As an emerging leader, I am uniquely designed to effect and affect my spheres. Since God has specially crafted me to fulfill certain purposes, I can only realize them when I get to know myself. Self-awareness is a doorway to unraveling all that I am intended to be in this life. Through this lesson, I understood my personality, embraced it and right now, I am more aware of myself and actuating ME in my passion and work. I am different amazingly. Notably, I have intentionally decided to embrace people and not disregard them because of our differing personalities. We are molded differently and the best we can do is accommodate and learn from our amazing divergent personalities.

I love stories, more-so analogies that make a write up interesting and easy to understand. Well, thinking through my life story, sharing it, and retelling it to a close buddy is relieving. I am more grateful for every season of my life, something I couldn’t even think of a while back. The beautiful, the not so good to mention, the highs and lows moments, they all make your story beautiful. This has enabled me to look back, reflect on past life happenings and reminded me of how my journey Iis this far. My story has an influence, I should own it, embrace it, and share it proudly, it might inspire someone. That makes an Impactful leader!

Every lesson has made sense. Writing letters to self has reminded me of my passion, my strengths, the bold girl from the village who is fearless and against all odds has scaled heights in the most unlikely environments. “How could that be princess? Through the difficulties, you have conquered. You have made it over time because God’s wall has continuously shielded you from storms. Keep conquering, won’t you?” I wrote to my 12-year-old-self.

These reflections have kept my heart tuned to whom I have always been. Reminded me of how much potential I have and how much I’m yet to achieve.

I am BECOMING.

 

Submitted by:

Susan Ndiangui-ABLI 2020